One year later, landmark hailstorm lawsuit reforms shows lasting results, say tort reform groups
SE Texas Record
AUSTIN – Lawsuit reform enacted by the Texas Legislature in 2017 and that took effect one year ago show that common sense reform works for Texas, say state tort reform groups.
Ensuring state courts are used for justice, not greed, is a central pillar of the work of Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse and local Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse groups, the state’s grassroots network of Texas voters and small business owners.
“Hailstorm lawsuit reform has solidified Texas’ reputation as a national leader in common sense lawsuit reform that preserves access to our courts while reining in abusive lawsuits,” said TALA Executive Director Jennifer Harris of the legislation, House Bill 1774.
The legislation was a response to abusive practices by some trial lawyers and others who were aggressively recruiting homeowners to serve as plaintiffs in weather-related lawsuits.
“Hailstorm lawsuit reform is celebrating its one-year anniversary of preserving Texans’ access to courts for legitimate claims, ensuring our courts are used for justice – not to line the pockets of some personal injury lawyers,” said Sergio Contreras of Rio Grande Valley CALA.
According to property and casualty insurance lawsuit data compiled by Texans for Lawsuit Reform, prior to the passage of hailstorm lawsuit reform (between Jan. 1, 2014 and Aug. 31, 2017), over 34,000 weather-related suits were filed, including a spike of 1,553 lawsuits in August 2017, filed just prior to the new lawsuit reform law taking effect.
Available data for the first four months after the hailstorm reforms took effect shows an average of only 85 weather-related lawsuits filed each month.
“We’re seeing first-hand that our reform efforts work,” said Bay Area CALA Executive Director D’Anne Buquet. “Weather-related lawsuits are down to levels not seen since 2012.”
Harris noted that the reforms preserve access to our courts for legitimate claims.
“HB 1774 limits lawsuit abuse by giving insurance companies 60 days to resolve a claim before being taken to court,” Harris said. “It also preserves Texas homeowners’ right to sue, while ensuring that natural disasters aren’t used for financial gain driven by personal injury lawyers.”
TALA noted that Texas has some of the strongest consumer protections against insurers that unfairly deny or delay weather-related claims, and, Harris says that hasn’t changed since the new law took effect last year.